By Danny Emerman (Sports Correspondent).
Sharon had led comfortably for the whole game, but Milton’s late surge put them in striking distance down five points with under two minutes to play. The Eagles inbounded the ball and faced a chaotic full court trap, but the ball was in good hands. Junior Ricardo Ripley maneuvered out of a trap and lobbed a no-look dime over the top of the defense to the streaking senior Matt Lowerre, who laid in an uncontested bunny and thrusted the metaphoric nail in the coffin.
Led by Ripley (20 points) and Lowerre (16), the Sharon Eagles defeated the Milton Wildcats 56-45. With the win, Sharon advances to the second round of the MIAA South Division 2 Playoffs.
“It’s in the back of all our minds that it’s ‘win or go home.’ We have to play every game like it’s our last,” junior point guard Ricardo Ripley said.
“We have a lot of seniors on our team and they’re definitely playing hard because they know it could be the last game of their careers,” he added.
In addition to his two three-pointers, Ripley put on a clinic around the rim. He routinely carved his way into the lane and finished through contact with either hand in isolation plays and in transition.
“I’m just trying to do everything I can to win the game and help my team because I’m trying to get to the Garden like everyone else,” Ripley added.
As the Eagles dribbled out the clock and the final buzzer blared, the scoreboard showed, “CANTON: 56, GUEST: 45.” The game was moved to Canton High because the SHS gym was being prepared for primary election voting.
Captain Matt Lowerre says that the last-minute change in scenery slightly affected his pregame mindset, but the team did not let it alter the outcome of the game.
“We were able to adapt. Whatever court we’re on, I like my team and I like our chances of winning,” Lowerre said.
Lowerre did not have a particularly efficient shooting night, but he was able to provide offense with high-percentage shots and by getting to the free throw line (6/6 at the charity stripe). He says that although his shot was off, he still had to find ways to produce for his team.
“It’s always about playing hard and taking open shots. When they fall, they fall and when they don’t you just have to keep shooting. I kept working hard on defense and helping my team in any possible way.”
Sharon’s next test is at 6:00 on Wednesday at Whitman-Hanson as they take on the 20-2 Panthers from the Patriot League. Whitman-Hanson is the 24th ranked team in the state and the second seed in the tournament.